I recently got the chance to talk to Beau Nelson about his role in ‘The Artist’. Here, Beau talks about how he got involved in the film in the first place and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
Hey Beau. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film ‘The Artist’.
My pleasure Matt, thanks much for the interest in my career.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
The film centers around George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in the early 1920’s when movies started to make a transition over to talkies. George believed the idea of talkies was bound for complete failure and would be a short-lived trend. However, through a series of run-ins with George, Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) began to escalate her career. As Peppy’s career skyrocketed into talkies, George’s plummeted. Too proud to ask for help, George spiraled into a deep state of depression and financial debt. However, Peppy’s passion for George inevitably wins him over in this very special and truly magical moviegoer experience.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play one of Peppy’s boyfriends as she attempts to date and find love. I’m very much a happy young man enthused at the idea of entertaining a young Hollywood starlet on the rise. However, her passion for George doesn’t allow her to love anyone else.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I had to go through the typical audition process and compete against the other great actors in Hollywood. I was submitted by my great manager at Bohemia Group, and called in by the wonderful Heidi Levitt Casting office. It was really all about preparedness and having an understanding of the material I was given to audition with.
How would you say this film is different and unique?
Well, it’s silent, black and white and shown on a 1.33 aspect ratio. So it’s very similar to films most people would have gone and seen in the early ‘20s. When you add that to the fact the film is such a magical and warm experience, it’s no shock that it has been nominated for so many awards.
The film stars Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Missi Pyle – with Michel Hazanavicius onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
This was the most incredible experience I’ve had to date on set. Just the aura and attitude of everyone involved was tremendously warming. Everyone believed in the film and it really felt like everyone was so happy to be there. Berenice is the sweetest person and was so great to work with. She’s extremely talented and it was really an honour to have shared screen time with her. Michel was also fantastic to work with. He was so calm and relaxed, which isn’t something you always see from a director. His positive energy made it really easy to work with him. Michel knew exactly what he wanted to see and had no problem communicating to me. Truly a blessing for me.
Let’s talk a bit about you Beau. What made you want to get into the world of film in the first place?
I’ve always been very creative and into arts but, coming from a small town in Wisconsin, it wasn’t something that seemed reasonable or attainable. After college, I settled into a professional career and soon realized that I really lacked a creative outlet. When I moved to Madison, WI, I started dabbling more in the film world. There was a period of about six months where I’d travel the 2 ½ hours to Chicago for a 5-minute audition, then make the trek back. Get a callback, make the drive again. My first lead role in a film was a project based near Gary, IN. So, I’d make that hike of about 3 ½ hours on the weekends to rehearse and ultimately film. I think at that point I realized how much I loved acting. To me, performing is just playing. It’s the opportunity to be something you wouldn’t normally be able to be; even if it’s just for a short moment in time. So, from there, with degree in hand and nothing to lose, I packed up my car and headed out to Hollywood.
You’ve been in a number of different TV series and films – who have been your favourite actors/actresses to work with so far? Any good stories to tell?
I’ve already mentioned Berenice Bejo, but a few others are Tim Thomerson, Lance Henrikson, Tom Sizemore, Michael Madsen, Curtis Armstrong, Jeremy London, etc. Tim and Lance are super cool, laid back guys. Such a fantastic and extremely talented group of guys. Jeremy London was also a really nice guy. None of those folks had any sort of ego whatsoever, very happy to help you out any way they can. Alex Ballar was the writer/director/actor of the film I starred in called ‘All American Zombie Drugs’. He, too, is just full of knowledge and really helped me turn on the acting lightbulb.
If you could invite three guests to dinner – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
I’d love to hang out with Johnny Depp. He’s actually one of the main reasons I entered in this type of career. My goal someday is to play the types of roles he does. He comes up with some really courageous ideas for characters and goes for it. I’d also like to hang with Anthony Hopkins. Talk about a talented guy! I love every one of his movies and it would be awesome to work with him someday. Meryl Streep is another person I’d like to sit down and talk with. Maybe if I could actually get them to dinner, I could talk them into doing a movie with the four of us!
What is currently on your I-Pod right now?
I have such a diverse range of music. Tupac is still secretly my idol, but I have a mixture of Kings Of Leon, Aerosmith, The Airborne Toxic Event, Carrie Underwood, Eminem, Incubus, Michael Jackson, Muse, etc.
What are your favourite foods/drinks and why?
I’m not sure I have just one favourite food/drink. For food, I really like gyros, lasagna, lamb chops, prime rib, sweet potatoes, pizza, philly cheese steak, etc. I occasionally like to make a variety of tapas at home. But being from Wisconsin, I really love my cheese. For drinks, I stick to a lot of water. But I do need to have my coffee in the morning. In terms of cocktails, I’m a sucker for Merlot, Mojitos and a good stout beer.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
So far I have a few projects in the works that are still under negotiations. I’m also planning on producing at least two more. One of them is titled ‘In War They Come’ and we plan on shooting this summer in New Mexico. I can’t speak on it too much yet, but it takes place on August 12, 1915. We’re really going to be gutsy on this one and film it in a way that hasn’t yet been done. Another project I’m attached to act in is affiliated with NASA. I can’t speak too much on this one either, unfortunately, but I’m sure it’ll make some noise once the information starts being publicized. Other than that, I’m anxious for a great 2012 and have set a number of goals for myself. Some of the special skills I’m after are a Certification in Scuba Diving, getting to Intermediate/Advanced on Tango and Salsa, and learning to ride horses.
Thanks for the interview!